Weight of hoarded paper safe in typical house?

Greetings all - I have a general question about hoarders and the safety of their houses. A friend of mine is married to a hoarder - his thing is books and paper mainly. They have two kids and live in a circa 1920’s two story home.

My question is - he has his bedroom (used to be theirs but she moved to a downstairs room due to hoarding) full - and I mean full - of papers and books. The room is on the second floor above the kitchen. He even has piles on the side of the bed where my friend used to sleep.

Is this safe? Besides being what I can imagine is a distinct fire hazard - can the typical house withstand that much weight without having the floor collapse? He keeps most of his hoarding to his bedroom and the adjacent “extra” room - but it is slowly piling up around other places.

I want to tell my friend to get the hell out (and take the kids) - but maybe I’m worried over nothing?

Can’t recall hearing about a floor giving way unless there is a structural problem. Fire is the more likely problem.

I don’t know if it’s “immediate emergency” dangerous, but it ain’t safe for sure.

A cubic foot of paper is roughly 40 - 80 pounds per cubic foot, depending on the type, possibly even more if it’s all hardback books.

IIRC modern standards for floors are a minimum 40 lbs/square foot. This is routinely exceeded with little to no problem, like when people install large aquariums, for instance. However, large aquariums are designed to spread the weight across the entire footprint of the aquarium, and are strategically placed along load-bearing walls, across joists, and other strong points of the structure; not to mention that people typically don’t fill entire rooms with large aquariums, which is essentially what your friends’ husband has done.

Look at the ceiling of the room below - if it’s starting to sag, there’s way too much weight above…

This is absolutely a gross overload of the structure.

Its general practice in the construction industry to be careful when stacking supplies like tile on a floor. We spread them out , place close to walls, etc. Thats in a new home.

A home built in the twenties may have weaknesses due to age or poor construction practice. I certainly wouldn’t allow large stacks of paper or books.

This is a mental illness that needs to be treated. If that and the obvious fire hazard is not enough is a structural hazard going to make that much more of a difference to them?

Yeah, I’d worry. Books aren’t all that bad but magazines? I woke up one night to a crash in my living room. I had four sturdy bookcases, three with books and one with years of British car mags, and the latter is the one that collapsed. When I moved last year, the boxes of magazines drew the most complaints as well.

The TV program “Hoarders” once featured a case in which a guy had so much stuff in his house that several of the floor joists had cracked. This wasn’t discovered until the cleaners had removed enough stuff to access the basement and see the cracks. Had the first floor collapsed, it would have formed a sort of conical pit; anyone in the center would have been trapped and crushed from all sides by an avalanche of junk.